3 killed in Thai south
Mar 17, 2010

YALA (Thailand) - A TEENAGE boy was among three people shot dead by suspected insurgents in the Thai south, police said on Wednesday, as the Thai premier and crown prince paid a visit to the restive region.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was due to leave Bangkok, as mass protests enter a fourth day there, to arrive on Wednesday afternoon in the troubled far south, where more than 4,100 people have been killed in six years of unrest.

The 13-year-old was killed and his mother and father were seriously injured when militants opened fire on their car in Yala town late on Tuesday night. The same night, in the main town of nearby Pattani province, a 38-year-old Muslim religious teacher was shot dead and his seven-year-old son was wounded in a drive-by shooting as they left a mosque by motorcycle.

A 43-year-old Buddhist man was also shot dead at his house in neighbouring Narathiwat province, while a police sergeant was seriously wounded on Wednesday morning in another gun attack.

Mr Abhisit was due to arrive in Songkhla province early on Wednesday afternoon to welcome Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who will preside over the royal cremation of a senior police commander killed last week.

Shadowy militant groups in the region never publicly state their goals but have targeted both Buddhists and Muslims, sometimes using gruesome methods such as beheadings and crucifixions. The region was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until it was annexed in 1902 by mainly Buddhist Thailand and tensions have bubbled there ever since, flaring up into the current insurgency in January 2004.